Management Transition at GrandVision’s For Eyes Business Unit

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SCHIPHOL, The Netherlands—GrandVision (EURONEXT: GVNV) said last week that the chief executive officer of its For Eyes unit, Jose Costa, has resigned. For Eyes chief financial officer James Cline has assumed the role of chief executive officer “in the interim” in addition to his current responsibilities, the company stated. “Jose Costa has stepped down from his role as chief executive officer, For Eyes, effective March 1, for personal reasons,” a company spokesman said in an email response to a VMAIL inquiry. “We will share details on Jose’s successor in the near future. We want to thank Jose for his commitment to For Eyes and wish him well,” the spokesman added.

For Eyes is the 15th largest optical retailer in the U.S., with estimated annual sales of about $110 million in 2017, according the VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers report.

GrandVision acquired For Eyes in December 2015, and the U.S. business undertook a significant expansion effort in 2018, with plans to open roughly 25 new locations in the latter part of the year, adding about 20 percent to its existing retail base of 120 locations across the U.S., as VMAIL reported.

Separately last week, GrandVision reported that global revenue in fiscal 2018 rose 10.3 percent (at constant exchange rates) to €3,721 million with comparable growth of 3.4 percent, as VMAIL reported. Adjusted EBITDA rose 6.2 percent at constant exchange rates to €576 million.

In a breakdown of the results in its “Americas & Asia” business segment, GrandVision said fourth-quarter revenue growth “slowed down to 1.8 percent at constant exchange rates with a comparable growth rate of 5.5 percent, mainly due to lower growth levels across Latin America and the United States.” The company noted that the U.S. market “remains a core priority” and that the U.S. unit reduced its EBITDA loss “despite cost of store openings and new POS system in Q4 2018.”

The announcement also noted that adjusted EBITDA increased to €20 million in [fiscal year] 2018 compared with €11 million in 2017 in the Americas & Asia segment. “During the year, strong underlying organic EBITDA growth of more than €15 million was partially reduced by a negative currency translation effect of €6 million,” the announcement stated. “The loss in the United States was reduced by €5 million during the year as operational improvements were offset by the cost of store openings and the introduction of a new POS system in the fourth quarter.”

In the fourth quarter, GrandVision said adjusted EBITDA in the Americas & Asia segment declined by €3 million to negative €4 million, “mainly driven by higher costs in the United States related to the introduction of a new POS system as well as costs related to the opening of 13 new stores during the quarter.”

GrandVision chief executive officer Stephan Borchert called 2018 a “transitional” year for the company and noted that 2018 “marks the beginning of an exciting journey to drive GrandVision through its next phase of growth,” according to last week’s financial announcement.